Collins Releases New Music Amidst Outbreak
Although it wasn’t the album release she’d been dreaming of, country artist Ruthie Collins launched her new record “Cold Comfort” in a special way with her fans. In fact, if it wasn’t for the global pandemic, Collins wouldn’t have had the unique experience of releasing her album with her biggest fan – her mother – right from the piano she grew up playing in the living room of her childhood home in Fredonia.
Collins, who is a resident of Nashville, Tenn., released her EP and her first album “Get Drunk And Cry” in Music City. Originally, a Nashville release was planned for “Cold Comfort,” too.
“I came home to Fredonia right after St. Patrick’s Day,” Collins said. “My travel plans came to a screeching halt. I was thinking I would be quarantined by myself in Nashville and that my mom (Kay Barlow) would be quarantined up here by herself. At that time, we didn’t know if they would start to shut down state borders, so I decided to come home so she and I could be quarantined together!”
Collins has enjoyed spending the past month at home with her mom. “I haven’t been able to visit this long since the summer after my freshman year of college,” Collins laughed.
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic coincided with Collins’ April 3 release date for her new album – a date that is nearly impossible to push back once it is set. “At that point, we were already so far down the road,” Collins said of the planning work she and label Curb Records had completed. “You have to get the album to Spotify and iTunes six weeks out. I’d also been telling my fans when it would be released for awhile.”
In a normal scenario, Collins said that she would have released the album in Nashville with her band, her label and various press outlets. The release would also include in-office visits with Spotify, the Grammy board, Pandora and Apple Music. “In March, people started working from home, so none of that happened,” Collins explained. “Tour dates got canceled; our trip to the UK got postponed. Anything you can’t do online or over the phone was canceled.”
Instead, Collins celebrated her album release on April 3 with an Instagram live concert from her mom’s living room! “My mom made dinner, and she baked a cake to celebrate,” said Collins. “It was wonderful! I played the whole album, top to bottom, sitting at my mom’s piano or playing my guitar. It was a totally stripped-back experience: just me playing the piano and my guitar unamplified.”
Collins said the experience was also unique for her mom, who doesn’t usually get the chance to see Collins right after a concert. “She told me how proud she is of me with tears in her eyes,” Collins recalled. “That was the best album review I could have gotten! I really have to thank COVID-19 for that.”
Like other musicians, Collins has been afforded new opportunities to reach out to her fans amid the global crisis. She noted, “I think we’re all trying to find ways to stay connected with our base, our audience. It’s all trial through fire right now.”
Collins has taken to social media to share words of encouragement and positivity with her fans, including ways she has managed to stay happy in the midst of uncertainty and fear. “We rolled out a bi-weekly ‘Let’s Get Happy Hour’ on Mondays and Thursdays at 4:30 p.m. eastern time,” said Collins. “These live Instagram concerts will feature songs from my new album, a ‘deep dive’ of the songs, behind-the-scenes and more.”
Interestingly, Collins’ new record has many unintended tie-ins to the current emotional climate created by COVID-19. “I think this record is a departure for me,” she reflected. “It’s very emotional, very vulnerable. Right now, people are trapped at home with their feelings. … The theme of the record is that it’s OK to feel your feelings so you can move through them to hope. We’re all stuck inside our own heads right now, but it’s a good opportunity to expand and lean in to uncomfortable feelings and create a better place in our own worlds.”
Among those industries hit hardest by COVID-19 are live sports and the performing industry – industries that depend on live audiences and large gatherings. Now, many wonder when or if the days of packed stadiums, sold-out music festivals and crowded concert halls will return. However, Collins remains hopeful.
“I am an optimist! I don’t think human connection is something we can live without, long term,” she said. “I just have to imagine that we will all find a way to be together again. I don’t believe this is the end of big music festivals or events.”
In the mean time, Collins is enjoying her virtual interactions with fans through Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Her new record is available for streaming or purchase at smarturl.it/ColdComfortAlbum and her website ruthincollinsmusic.com.
Although she doesn’t know when she’ll be able to return to Nashville, Collins hopes to perform in Chautauqua County this summer during the Cassadaga on the Lake concert series. “My dad is one of the people who books the shows,” Collins laughed. “Hopefully, that will still happen! I love coming home to perform.”